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    How Himpmunk Can Solve the Google + and Facebook Problem

    August 24th, 2011

    Circles are all the rage with Google Plus but, as any usability person will tell you, they are a pain to manage.  That is why the Groups option in Facebook never got much traction.  You have to be dedicated to keeping the lists current and managing the settings on the pages.  Google tried to address this issue by forcing you to add people to a circle, but it is still a pain and still rather confusing.  Facebook just took another stab at it.

    I say just look at how people currently use social services and make a solution that solves this issue.  Hint: it is not this silly all-in-one view that both Facebook and Google Plus have taken.  The answer is right in from of them and the interfaces solution lies with Hipmunk.

    In Hipmunk you can create several searches in a tabbed view while remaining in the same browser tab.  The searches may be similar, but obviously different as well.  The key is that you have a central place to manage multiple threads, each thread in a unique tab.

    When you look at the social landscape there are clear breaks.  Facebook is for family and friends.  Twitter is for the masses.  LinkedIn is for work.  All are social; all are distinct.  The answer is one interface that blends all of it together in a central place with unique tabs.

    Circles and groups fail because you manage where you share it at the end of the sharing process, right before you click share.  Think about how much easier it would be to share to “Google+Professionals”, “Google+Friends”, “Google+World”.  Sure, have the concept of Circles live within this interface.  Make it so you can share on +Friends and add the +Work circle to the “Share With” list.  Have a Limited Profile list etc.  The point is that by creating an interface that makes is unmistakably clear where you are sharing people can effectively manage their online presence.

    Then bring it all together by having a central stream where the content flows into and make it clear (w/ an icon) where the post was originally shared from (+P, +F, +W or something cool).  Or, maybe you don’t need a central stream.  Maybe that’s what people say they want, but they don’t actually want it.  Maybe the solution is that people naturally silo themselves into distinct groups and providing a central tool that allows them to select the silo they wish to view is the answer.

    Google Plus is so close to this with the mandated Circles concept but still falls short.  Get people to a central place to manage these different aspects of their life first (look at the success of TweetDeck).  Then focus on how people would like to see them integrated, if at all.  Right now I see these companies trying to solve for a problem (a central place for everything) which doesn’t seem to have much demand while they ignore that people want – to separate certain aspects of their life into silos.

    Hipmunk has it right – give us tabs.  One place, many views, and a central place to manage to distinct aspects of my social presence.

    Does that sound like something you’d use?

    This has been a thought from The Cake Scraps.

    Did Twitter Kill Traditional News?

    May 4th, 2011

    Given that the raid on Osama Bin Laden was Tweeted as it happened it would be tempting to say that newspapers are dead.  Had the announcement from President Obama happened any later perhaps the headlines for the next day would have missed the announcement completely.  I could almost see the “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment happening all over again.  Twitter supporters will further fuel for the Twitter fire by pointing out that the information was first leaked via Twitter.

    The problem with saying that Twitter has replaced traditional media is that it overlooks a few critical factors.   One factor is that the Twitter-sphere makes mistakes.  Things that are not true can grow quickly – such as when Rep. Giffords was reported dead.  You may point out that news organizations also get stories incorrect, and you would be right, but a story published online can be updated and corrected so that when people go there they see the more up to date information.  No such function exists for Tweets.

    Additionally, we have to make sure that we are differentiating between the spread of a news item and the creation of that news item.  A story may get legs on Twitter but the story may not have broken by Twitter.  Even when no link is provided back to the original article many news related Tweets are probably inspired by some traditional media content.

    Finally, there are some straight up problems with Twitter as a news source.  When there are 3,000 tweets per second flowing in on a topic I would assert that gaining useful information is quite difficult.  For instance if I told you that Osama Bin Laden was killed and that you had 5 minutes to get me details on it using only Twitter you would be helpless.  There is no organization to the content.  It is Finnegan’s Wake, present day.

    In a similar vein, Twitter does not provide a forum to go into any detail on a topic.  Sure, there are many items in which 140 characters will be more than enough, but there are also a large number of stories that need a bit more than that – say a paragraph – or even a lot more than that – a full article detailing the timeline of the raid.

    No, Twitter will never kill real journalism.  It will aid in the sharing of articles, but that just helps traditional news outlets.  Sure, the face of news will change.  The tools of the trade will change.  The way news is distributed will change.  Twitter is just a tool and at the end of the day I think people find the old adage holds true and one does well to heed it: Knowledge is power.  People will keep reading past 140.

    Has Twitter killed traditional news for you?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.

    Time For Twitter

    November 13th, 2008

    If you have had a chance to look at my About page you know that I can be found on Twitter @TheCakeScraps.  I can’t say that I use Twitter a lot, mostly for small updates and general questions, but I really think that is where the value in Twitter lies.

    CommonCraft.com has an interesting video on what Twitter is.  They elect to describe it more as an away message that you would find on Pidgin, AIM or whatever you may use.  This includes updates such as “Going to the game” or “sitting around the house”.

    It is true that some people do use it for that, but I tend to think that it actually degrades the service.  In fact, there are occasions where I do not follow people simply because I don’t want to have to wade through endless tweets that I don’t really care about. There was an interesting post on A Thousand Cuts that conveyed a similar thought

    On Twitter, many folks share personal details like what’s for dinner, how much they love caffeine or the occasional banter about the Red Sox.  These conversations help us get to know contacts more personally, but can at times be perceived as noise.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a daily update about what went on or how you are feeling.  What I don’t want is an update every 10 minutes.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to read through all of that crap.

    I use Twitter more as a mini-blog.  I think of each tweet as a post rather than an away message.  I like throwing in a link to my latest post.  I like posing a question or thought and getting reactions.  That is what I really love about Twitter.  That is what I have time for.  Follow me on Twitter @TheCakeScraps. You won’t be disappointed you did.

    What about you?  How do you think that Twitter should be used?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.